Existential crises belong to out-of-work businessmen, recent college graduates, dying grandmothers, New York City psychiatrists, glasses-wearing Jews, but they do not usually belong to cartoon characters. When they do, the results are hysterical glimpses into our own mortality and how we all need a lasagna-eating, fat cat to save us from these realizations. The newest addition to the existential crises cartoons is 3eanuts, which removes the final panel from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts strips because, according to its creator, “with the final panel omitted, despair pervades all.”
The trend started out with the blog Garfield Minus Garfield. John Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, was always a pretty depressing guy; he can never find a date, his dog is stupid, his cat thinks he’s an idiot. With Garfield removed, however, a snarky cat thought bubble isn’t even there to save John from his misery. The funniest selections show John bringing home things to show Garfield, but with Garfield missing, John just shows them to nobody. When you think about it, John could never really hear Garfield anyways—he’s a cat after all—and was really just talking to himself all this time.
3eanuts isn’t quite as funny as Garfield Minus Garfield because the hapless characters are left without the final panel to resolve them of their misery. Charlie Brown is left in a tunnel of dust on the baseball field, Linus’ grandfather probably will never recover, Lucy gets Charlie Brown’s gun and keeps it. The Peanuts take on a sinister and depressing undertone that was always there in Schultz’s original comic, but was overshadowed by happy dancing music and Linus’ Christmas speech. The original message of the strip was not quite so jolly.
When I was looking for these blogs again, I came across a number of existential crisis blogs—it seems as though it’s a pretty hot trending topic on the Interwebs. An Existential Crisis is a blog that provides crisis-inducing quotes from literature, movies and philosophers, listing a reading list from including Kafka to Camus with whom you can commiserate.
I didn’t know that there was such a community of existentialists out in the world, but I guess if everyone has to have one—tens or hundreds of times in his or her life, I suppose—I’d rather have one with John Arbuckle. Although, I’d personally prefer to weather the storm with a fat, lasagna-eating cat.
What are your favorite comic strips with which to have existential crises?